Native Gardens is a play by Karen Zacarias and directed by Brandon Weinbrenner currently playing at Main Street Theater. Native Gardens brings together experiences everyone can relate to, dealing with neighbors. Across all walks of life, everyone has a story about their neighbor. I personally grew up in a house that was in my family since the 1950s and the neighbors were there for almost just as long. The parents, kids and even grandkids grew up playing with each other over decades. And like Native Gardens, when there was conflict, there was CONFLICT.
It was refreshing to see Native Gardens bring together four characters that collectively represented our experiences but also individually had their own struggles. Issues from immigration, sexism, classism, racism, ageism were all addressed, all in about 60 minutes. The actors did such an awesome job I often forgot that I was watching a show. The show also centered around gardening and we had a talk back with actors and a Master Gardener.
Being in the 4th largest city in the country and restaurant mecca, it is often overlooked that we have a strong gardening community. I learned about Houston’s Community Gardens from Master Gardener Terry Garner during the talkback. I was pleasantly surprised to learn about classes for city folk without a yard. Container garden classes (and more) are taught at the Palm Center Community Garden every 3rd Saturday at 10AM.
I was also blown away that there are 12 garden multi-service centers in Houston. The gardens produce over 50,000 lbs of produce a year. They have a farmer’s market every 2nd and 4th Saturday and are always looking for volunteers. I have been using the excuse of having no yard for not gardening but now that has been blown out the water. Also, my excuse of becoming involved with theater, perhaps even acting.
During the actor talkback, I heard a common theme with the actors who all had a corporate career but always came back to theater. I realized after listening that I indeed had met one of the actors before and it wasn’t just from another show. He is a Carnegie Mellon (go Scots!) graduate with a chemical engineering background (are we getting close to home or what). We spoke afterwards and he encouraged me to “come back home” as we have so many choices of community theaters to start. So, I take it as a charge to put on my vision board that somehow, I will be on a stage soon (relatively). Now, I have to have you hold me accountable. Until then, please go see Native Gardens as it closes June 11th.